Unlicensed architect overbilled Scottsdale Unified by 'hundreds of thousands,' report finds

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Hunt & Caraway appears to have overbilled SUSD by “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Susan Segal said. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Hunt & Caraway appears to have overbilled SUSD by “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Susan Segal said. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The findings were announced by Susan Segal of the Gust Rosenfeld law firm, an attorney hired by SUSD to investigate the district’s procurement practices. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The findings were announced by Susan Segal of the Gust Rosenfeld law firm, an attorney hired by SUSD to investigate the district’s procurement practices. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Scottsdale Unified awarded a contract to redesign several school sites to a firm called Hunt & Caraway Architects through a non-profit procurement agency rather than a public process. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Scottsdale Unified awarded a contract to redesign several school sites to a firm called Hunt & Caraway Architects through a non-profit procurement agency rather than a public process. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Segal said she uncovered several areas of concern about the architectural firm and its principles that she would turn over to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and the Arizona Board of Technical Registration. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Segal said she uncovered several areas of concern about the architectural firm and its principles that she would turn over to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and the Arizona Board of Technical Registration. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

An architectural firm hired by the Scottsdale Unified School District for a multimillion-dollar renovation project was not properly licensed, failed to disclose the felony conviction of its president on paperwork, and appears to have overbilled the district by “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” according to a report presented Tuesday to the governing board.

The findings were announced by Susan Segal of the Gust Rosenfeld law firm, an attorney hired by SUSD to investigate the district’s procurement practices after several complaints from parents about the way the contract was awarded. UPDATE 12/20: A copy of Segal's investigation is available here. 

Scottsdale Unified awarded a contract to redesign several school sites to a firm called Hunt & Caraway Architects through a non-profit procurement agency rather than a public process.

Segal said she interviewed at least 10 witnesses and found no evidence that the district violated any procurement laws when it selected Hunt & Caraway. Segal also said she did not find evidence that district employees were unduly influenced or coerced, although she noted she did not have the power to subpoena bank records.

However, Segal said she uncovered several areas of concern about the architectural firm and its principles that she would turn over to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and the Arizona Board of Technical Registration.

Among those concerns:

  • Hunt & Caraway failed to disclose that its then-president and lead architect, Brian A. Robichaux, had a prior felony theft conviction on procurement documents from 2013, Segal said.
  • Robichaux was not a registered architect and there were no registered architects on the selection committee for the Construction Manager at Risk, which Segal said are indications “the law was clearly violated.” Segal said Robichaux falsely represented that he was a registered architect on at least two occasions.
  • Hunt & Caraway appears to have overbilled SUSD by “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Segal said, although the exact amount is unclear. The firm has been charging the district a 7 percent fee on at least three projects, Segal said, rather than the agreed-upon fee schedule of six percent.

[RELATED: Scottsdale Unified school renovation contract awarded to convicted felon]

Tempe Elementary School District is also currently using Hunt & Caraway through a similar procurement process. Tempe Elementary spokeswoman Christine Trujillo confirmed the contract in an email, but when asked if the district would review the arrangement in light of the concerns in Scottsdale, she did not immediately respond.

Hunt & Caraway did not return a call Monday seeking comment. 

A statement from the Scottsdale Unified School District can be found HERE.

A copy of the investigation by Susan Segal, the attorney hired by SUSD, is available HERE.

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Derek StaahlDerek Staahl is an Emmy Award-winning reporter and fill-in anchor who loves covering stories that matter most to Arizona families.

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This once-uncompromising "California guy" got his first taste of Arizona in 2015 while covering spring training baseball for his former station. The trip spanned just three days, but Derek quickly decided Phoenix should be his next address. He joined CBS 5 and 3TV four months later, in August 2015. Before packing his bags for the Valley of the Sun, Derek spent nearly four years at XETV in San Diego, where he was promoted to Weekend Anchor and Investigative Reporter. Derek chaired the Saturday and Sunday 10 p.m. newscasts, which regularly earned the station's highest ratings for a news program each week. Derek’s investigative reporting efforts into the Mayor Bob Filner scandal in 2013 sparked a "governance crisis" for the city of San Diego and was profiled by the region’s top newspaper. Derek broke into the news business at WKOW-TV in Madison, WI. He wrote, shot, edited, and presented stories during the week, and produced newscasts on the weekends. By the end of his stint, he was promoted to part-time anchor on WKOW’s sister station, WMSN. Derek was born in Los Angeles and was named the “Undergraduate Broadcast Journalism Student of the Year” in his graduating class at USC. He also played quads in the school’s famous drumline. When not reporting the news, Derek enjoys playing drumset, sand volleyball, and baseball.

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